Hannah Webster Foster (1759–1840). The Coquette, or The History of Eliza Wharton. 1855.

Letter X


Upon closing my last, I walked down, and found Major Sanford alone. He met me at the door of the parlor, and, taking my hand with an air of affectionate tenderness, led me to a seat, and took one beside me. I believe the gloom of suspicion had not entirely forsaken my brow. He appeared, however, not to notice it, but, after the compliments of the day had passed, entered into an easy and agreeable conversation on the pleasures of society—a conversation perfectly adapted to my taste, and calculated to dissipate my chagrin and pass the time imperceptibly. He inquired the place of my native abode; and, having informed him, he said he had thoughts of purchasing the seat of Captain Pribble, in that neighborhood, for his residence; and could he be assured of my society and friendship, his resolution would be fixed. I answered his compliment only by a slight bow. He took leave, and I retired to dress for the day, being engaged to accompany my cousin to dine at Mr. Lawrence’s—a gentleman of fortune and fashion in this vicinity. Mr. Lawrence has but one daughter, heiress to a large estate, with an agreeable form, but a countenance which, to me, indicates not much soul. I was surprised in the afternoon to see Major Sanford alight at the gate. He entered with the familiarity of an old acquaintance, and, after accosting each of the company, told me, with a low bow, that he did not expect the happiness of seeing me again so soon. I received his compliment with a conscious awkwardness. Mrs. Richman’s morning lecture still rang in my head; and her watchful eye now traced every turn of mine and every action of the major’s. Indeed, his assiduity was painful to me; yet I found it impossible to disengage myself a moment from him, till the close of the day brought our carriage to the door; when he handed me in, and, pressing my hand to his lips, retired.

What shall I say about this extraordinary man? Shall I own to you, my friend, that he is pleasing to me? His person, his manners, his situation, all combine to charm my fancy, and, to my lively imagination, strew the path of life with flowers. What a pity, my dear Lucy, that the graces and virtues are not oftener united! They must, however, meet in the man of my choice; and till I find such a one, I shall continue to subscribe my name